Pinelands man to head world euthanasia body

STAFF REPORTER

Pinelands resident and Dignity SA founder Professor Sean Davison returned from Amsterdam this week where he was named president of the World Federation of Right To Die Societies (WFRDS).

Professor Davison is one of the world’s most recognisable euthanasia advocates, and made headlines around the world after helping his 85-year-old mother, Pat, to die in 2006.

According to outgoing WFRDS president Ron Plummer, the main objective of the federation is to provide information through maintaining a website (www.worldrtd.net) giving details of up-to-date developments from around the world – not just for member societies but also for students, journalists and others.

“Being united under a world body gives each of our individual organisations greater strength and credibility, because we are all campaigning for the same thing – the right of an individual who is suffering unbearably to choose to end their lives, and have assistance to do so,” Professor Davison said.

Dignity SA is working with the University of the Western Cape in a neuroscientific study to support a change to the law, which presently criminalises assisted death.

Professor Davison said the data from the study would be applicable across borders and cultures, as biologically a brain was a brain, no matter whose head it occupied.

“We show support for the need to legalise assisted death by demonstrating that it relieves fear and uncertainty associated with death, and we also show that the current law neurobiologically discriminates against women.”

Dignity SA is very close to a law change following the successful court hearing last year when a terminally ill man went to court to seek a legally assisted death.

With the help of board member and High Court advocate, Hendrik van Nieuwenhuizen, Dignity SA won.

The conference was also attended by a Canadian government representative to gain insight and assist with finalising that country’s decision to put a law in place which enables medically assisted dying.